August 21, 2018

How to Step Out of Self-Destruct Mode.

Depression chills my bones.

The afternoon sun bursts through the windows of my bedroom. My slippers drag along the carpet as I walk to close the curtains.

Two days ago, I was gliding through Osaka Castle Park in a sun hat preaching about self-love with a sense of empowerment. Now—out of nowhere—I am totally depressed, slumped over myself at the end of my bed.

Why—after all of this time of learning to love myself—does the urge to jump off of a proverbial cliff still come to mind?

When I fear that I have no place to go, my first instinct is to inflict more pain on myself. The “I will hurt me before you hurt me”concept is an old friend of mine.

It is a strong distaste for virtually everything that involves me, and right now, that seems unfair. I exhale loudly from the back of my throat. Why am I feeling like this?

I do all of the things that a person is “supposed” to do: I meditate. I practice yoga, daily. I make gratitude lists. I breathe and eat plants galore. I’ve trained for this, so how is it that I am still sinking into a Jacqui-shaped indention on my bed?

Depression gives us the illusion that there is no hope for anything beyond the present moment—this is a lie.

There are options.

Here are a few that come to mind when I am depressed.

Succumb to Despair. 

This feels like the best choice sometimes. It does not require much action. It asks that I stay exactly where I am with the curtains closed on my bed.

When I am down, it is hard to imagine lifting my body out of bed. Everything seems like a waste of time, like another failure or way to embarrass myself.

No one can see me like this. I have to cancel all of my plans. I feel that I am worthless. These are a few things that go through my mind when I am in self-destruct mode.

Choosing to succumb to despair is oddly comforting for me since I used to find a sense of control in self-destruction.

There are no other options if I choose this.

Become a Martyr. 

This option says to suck it up and be brave. It says to walk through our pain because suffering is the only way that we will learn anything valuable.

Sometimes this is exactly what I need to get out of my head. It gets me up and forces me to open the curtains. It forces me to put on a fresh outfit and walk out into the world when everything else says not to.

But this can start to mask what is really going on inside of me. It can cover up a deeper pain that possibly needs more direct attention.

“Maybe what is happening here is not that I am a failure—I am just hurting. I am just hurting.” ~ Pema Chödrön

Go Softly. 

This is Buddhist wisdom for coasting through a slump. Instead of beating myself up about staying or leaving, going softly reminds me to lean in and love myself even during darker times.

Going softly means taking a hot bath no matter what time of day it is. I stop judging myself. It means putting on comfortable clothes and not expecting to finish everything with flying colors. I do the laundry. I make tea. I drink water. I say “no” when I need to; I say “yes” when I can.

If I remember that I am lovable no matter what—I can love myself through the times where I want to self-destruct. I do not ignore my depression, but I do not ignore my sensitivity either.

This is my desired path if I can find a moment of clarity to see it beyond the veil of depression.

I take care of myself these days, so it frustrates me when depression hits out of nowhere.

It is always alarming to get pulled back into self-destruct mode, but I know how to weigh my options when this happens. I know how to feel everything, and if I make the brave choice to be careful with myself, I can grow from each of these waves.


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Jacqueline Hathaway Levin

author: Jacqueline Hathaway Levin

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